Lakeland High School junior Yazmine Sibiski is determined to make a difference and fight for people’s rights.
“One of my goals is to be able to create an accepting environment and allow people to feel more confident with their ideas and who they are,” she said. “I have been fortunate enough to see the unfairness in the world, which shouldn’t be there.”
The honors student stressed it was difficult adjusting after moving in 2010 to Jefferson Valley since she comes from a bi-racial household (her mother, who is a teacher in the Ossining School District and the 2019 Ms. Westchester County, is Puerto Rican and her father is Polish and German.)
“Growing up I never really felt I belonged anywhere,” she said. “I felt like such an outcast. It has always been hard for me to fit in. I can’t begin to imagine other people that have felt the way that I have. It’s an unpleasant feeling. I want to be the voice for those people.”
A member of her school’s Debate Team, Sibiski, 16, has founded the Breaking News Club, an online forum for Lakeland students to voice their concerns and opinions on any subject. The club, which she said has been supported by her principal, was slated to meet for the first time on Feb. 23.
Sibiski explained she decided to launch the club following the January 6 riot at the United States Capitol building in Washington D.C.
“I was talking about it with a lot of my friends and we didn’t know how to talk about it. I was infuriated with that,” she said of the insurrection. “They (students) should feel comfortable to be able to express how they feel. I feel it’s necessary to have a safe environment and have them listen to their own peers.”
In addition, Sibiski is creating a community-wide club called “A New World,” which welcomes activists of all ages. A website with information on that club is: https://takeactionmakechangeyaz.weebly.com.
“One of my top goals is to spread awareness, create more activists, and create a safe environment for everyone!” she said. “It infuriates me with how many places don’t have handicap accessible areas, how people are mistreated because their race or ethnicity or because of who they love. How there are children working in unimaginable conditions instead of attending school. Many families are not given the same opportunities or even health care advances because of the color of their skin. All these people deserve their rights, and they deserve someone to fight for those rights.”
Like many students, Sibiski has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, not having any in-person classroom learning since last March. Extracurricular activities like basketball and softball have also been benched.
“I was always with my friends from like 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Now I’m home 24/7,” she said. “It’s been a lot of work and a lot more stressful. You can’t create a relationship with teachers.”
But Sibiski hasn’t let COVID-19 derail her career path. An aspiring lawyer who has always dreamt of attending the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania, Sibiski has been accepted at a pre-college program at Georgetown University this summer and is hopeful of doing an internship with a judge that was cancelled last year.
“I have my whole life planned out,” she said.